No Par?

This is a personal favorite essay and has been published before in the Observer. Life, at times, is so sorrowful that it can be a challenge to remain optimistic. The environment, unemployment, disease, war, alienation, violence, suffering, humiliation, death. Let your voice ring forth, even though doubt and uncertainty be the human condition, hope, as Emily Dickinson wrote, “sings the tune–without the words, 
And never stops at all.”

I wonder a bit about those claiming they don’t keep score. Not so much in the win/loss column but in some reflective “total scheme of life” manner.

What we all have is time. Some assert that if we live a particular way or believe a particular notion that time is endless. No matter how appealing that idea, I cannot subscribe. As much as our emotions may desire—our bodies (and minds) will deny. Consciousness is temporary, fleeting and far too short.

We’re all on track (birth to death) so keeping score ought to be a relatively straight forward process. But we are not issued, we are not born with a helpful scorecard. We tee up for the 18 holes of life and soon discover there is no par.

Wouldn’t it be far easier if each of us was born tightly clutching a tiny scorecard in his or her little hand. Birth would be our first hazard and no matter how well we shot the “rapids”—mom would record, would deliver our first score.

So we trek through life, frequently without a clue, not only looking for meaning but searching for the “way” to live as well. Most of us come to grips (denial/acceptance) with the transitory nature of our existence. Absent, however, is the universal scorecard.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on “Compensation” prompted this little treatise. Emerson is writing, to a degree, about score keeping. Reread Emerson’s essays for a jolt of sanity.

I believe time is a river that for awhile we travel.

By what benchmarks do we evaluate that journey? By our physical possessions—what we have accumulated? Our knowledge? Our effort? Our passions? By compensation? Or, by any meaning we simply give it (our lives)?

“How am I doing, Coach?”

Compared to what? One of the misfortunes (a sadness) of human life is our apparent need to compare ourselves with/to others. We are so wrapped-up in “Keeping Up With The Jones,” not only in material possessions, but we unthinkingly adopt their shopworn ideas and absurd values as well.

Tragically and comically, we track our lives on someone else’s scorecard.

We are born with a song in our hearts that is unique and distinctive. WE ARE! Some of us sing early. Some of us sing late. Some of us never sing at all and some have their song beaten out of them. For the most part we write our own scores and for some it’s “three strikes and you’re out,” and for others, it’s an “Ode to Joy!”

We are born as water poured into a teakettle and as we boil along and vapor away, we sing our songs. We do, however, pick the song we sing.

And that, my fellow choir member, is the most important score of all to track.